Early 20th Century Revivals 1921

March 7 – Lowestoft, England – Douglas Brown

Douglas Brown

Douglas Brown

Douglas Brown, a Baptist minister in South London, had conversions in his church every Sunday. In obedience to God, he began itinerant evangelism in 1921, and within 18 months he addressed over 1,700 meetings and saw revival in his evangelistic ministry.

The Lord had convicted him about leaving his pastorate for mission work. Although reluctant to leave his church, he finally surrendered. He described it this way:

God laid hold of me in the midst of a Sunday evening service, and he nearly broke my heart while I was preaching. I went back to my vestry and locked the door, and threw myself down on the hearthrug in front of the vestry fireplace brokenhearted. Why? I do not know. My church was filled. I loved my people, and I believe my people loved me. I do not say they ought to, but they did.

I was as happy there as I could be. I had never known a Sunday there for fifteen years without conversions. That night I went home and went straight up to my study…. I had no supper that night. Christ laid his hand on a proud minister, and told him that he had not gone far enough, that there were reservations in his surrender, and he wanted him to do a piece of work that he had been trying to evade. I knew what he meant. All November that struggle went on, but I would not give way; I knew God was right, and I knew I was wrong. I knew what it would mean for me, and I was not prepared to pay the price. … All through January God wrestled with me. There is a love that will not let us go. Glory be to God! …

It was in February 1921, after four months of struggle that there came the crisis. Oh, how patient God is! On the Saturday night I wrote out my resignation to my church, and it was marked with my own tears. I loved the church, but I felt that if I could not be holy I would be honest; I felt that I could not go on preaching while I had a contention with God. That night the resignation lay on my blotter, and I went to bed but not to sleep. As I went out of my bedroom door in the early hours of the morning I stumbled over my dog. If ever I thanked God for my dog I did that night. As I knelt at my study table, the dog licked his master’s face; he thought I was ill; when Mike was doing that I felt I did not deserve anybody to love me; I felt an outcast.

Then something happened. I found myself in the loving embrace of Christ for ever and ever; and all power and joy and blessedness rolled in like a deluge. How did it come? I cannot tell you. Perhaps I may when I get to heaven. All explanations are there, but the experience is here. That was two o’clock in the morning. God had waited four months for a man like me; and I said, “Lord Jesus, I know what you want; you want me to go into mission work. I love Thee more than I dislike that.” I did not hear any rustling of angels’ wings. I did not see any sudden light (Griffin 1992, 17–18).

Hugh Ferguson, the Baptist minister at London Road Baptist Church in Lowestoft on the East Anglia coast, had invited Douglas Brown to preach at a mission there from Monday to Friday, March 7–11. The missioner arrived by train, ill. However, he spoke on Monday night and at meetings on Tuesday morning, afternoon, and night. The power of the Holy Spirit moved among the people from the beginning. On Wednesday night “inquirers” packed the adjacent schoolroom for counseling and prayer. Sixty to seventy young people were converted that night, along with older people. Each night more people packed the “inquiry room” after the service. So the mission was extended indefinitely. Douglas Brown returned to his church for the weekend and continued with the mission the next Monday. By the end of March the meetings were moved from the 700-seat Baptist Church to the 1100-seat capacity of St. John’s Anglican Church.

Revival had begun. Although Douglas Brown was the main speaker in many places, ministers of most denominations found they, too, were evangelizing. Revival meetings multiplied in the fishing center of Yarmouth as well in Ipswich, Norwich, Cambridge, and elsewhere. Scottish fishermen working out of Yarmouth in the winter were strongly impacted and took revival fire to Scottish fishing towns and villages in the summer. Jock Troup, a Scottish evangelist, visited East Anglia during the revival and then ministered powerfully in Scotland.

At the same time, the Spirit of God moved strongly in Ireland, especially in Ulster in 1921 through the work of W.P. (William Patteson) Nicholson, a fiery Irish evangelist. This was at the time when Northern Ireland received parliamentary autonomy accompanied by tension and bloodshed. Edwin Orr was converted then, although not through W.P. Nicholson. Orr reported that:

Nicholson’s missions were the evangelistic focus of the movement: 12,409 people were counselled in the inquiry rooms; many churches gained additions, some a hundred, some double; …prayer meetings, Bible classes and missionary meetings all increased in strength. … Ministerial candidates doubled (Griffin 1992, 87).

© Geoff Waugh. Used by permission.